There Was A Record Temperature Surge From 2014 To 2016

There Was A Record Temperature Surge From 2014 To 20162016 was the third year in succession to set a new record for global average surface temperatures. (Credit: NASA)

Global surface temperatures surged by a record amount from 2014 to 2016, researchers report.

The surge boosted the total amount of warming since the start of the last century by more than 25 percent in just three years, according to a new paper describing the research.

“Our paper is the first one to actually quantify this jump and identify the fundamental reason for this jump,” says lead author Jianjun Yin, an associate professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona.

The Earth’s average surface temperature climbed about 1.6 degrees F (0.9 C) from 1900 to 2013.

By analyzing global temperature records, Yin and his colleagues found that by the end of 2016, the global surface temperature had climbed an additional 0.43 degrees F (0.24 C).

“As a climate scientist, it was just remarkable to think that the atmosphere of the planet could warm that much that fast,” says coauthor Jonathan Overpeck.

El Niño’s impact

The spike in warming from 2014 to 2016 coincided with extreme weather events worldwide, including heat waves, droughts, floods, extensive melting of polar ice, and global coral bleaching.

The new research shows that natural variability in the climate system is not sufficient to explain the 2014-2016 temperature increase, says coauthor Cheryl Peyser, a doctoral candidate in geosciences at UA.

In the current paper, the researchers also project how frequent such big temperature spikes would be under four different greenhouse emission scenarios. Record-breaking temperature jumps and the accompanying extreme weather events will become more frequent unless greenhouse gas emissions decline, the team found.

Figuring out the mechanism for the temperature spike built on previous work by Peyser, Yin, and others.

The world is on track for one of the higher emission scenarios, Peyser says.

The earlier work showed that although the Earth’s surface warming had slowed from 1998 to 2013, heat from additional atmospheric greenhouse gases was being sequestered in the Pacific Ocean. The strong 2015-2016 El Niño roiled the ocean and released all the stored heat, causing a big jump in the Earth’s surface temperatures.

“Our research shows global warming is accelerating,” Yin says.

In early 2017, Yin and Overpeck were having lunch and Yin mentioned how fast the globe was warming.

Overpeck says, “I knew it was warming a lot, but I was surprised at how much it warmed and surprised at his insight into the probable mechanism.”

The two scientists began brainstorming about expanding on Peyser’s and Yin’s previous work.

The researchers analyzed observations of global mean surface temperatures from 1850 to 2016, ocean heat content from 1955 to 2016, sea level records from 1948 to 2016 and records of the El Niño climate cycle and a longer climate cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation—15 different datasets in all.

The analysis showed the 0.43 F (0.24 C) global temperature increase from 2014 to 2016 was unprecedented in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Extra emissions

Although some release of heat from the Pacific Ocean is normal during an El Niño, the researchers found much of the heat released in 2014-2015 was due to additional warming from increases in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Yin says, “The result indicates the fundamental cause of the large record-breaking events of global temperature was greenhouse-gas forcing rather than internal climate variability alone.”

The researchers also projected how often a 0.43 F (0.24 C) global temperature increase might occur in the 21st century depending on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted worldwide between now and 2100. The team used four representative concentration pathway, or RCP, models that project future climate change between 2006 and 2100.

For the low-emission RCP scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2020 and decline thereafter, temperature jumps of at least 0.43 F (0.24 C) might occur from zero to one time in the 21st century, the team found.

For the highest-emission RCP scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions rise unabated throughout the 21st century, spikes of record warm temperatures would occur three to nine times by 2100. Under this scenario, such events would likely be warmer and longer than the 2014-2016 spike and have more severe impact.

The world is on track for one of the higher emission scenarios, Peyser says.

Adapting to the increases in the frequency, magnitude, and duration of rapid warming events projected by the higher emission scenario will be difficult, the scientists write.

Yin says, “If we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we can reduce the number of large record-breaking events in the 21st century—and also we can reduce the risk.”

The research paper, by Yin, Overpeck, Peyser, and geosciences instructor Ronald Stouffer, appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Overpeck is dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The Visiting Scientist Program of Princeton University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation funded the research.

Source: University of Arizona

Related Books

InnerSelf Market

Amazon

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

EVIDENCE

What Is Climate Sensitivity?
What Is Climate Sensitivity?
by Robert Colman and Karl Braganza
Humans are emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As these gases build up they trap extra heat…
There Are No Time-travelling Climatologists: Why We Use Climate Models
There Are No Time-travelling Climatologists: Why We Use Climate Models
by Sophie Lewis and Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick
The first climate models were built on fundamental laws of physics and chemistry and designed to study the climate…
What Caused Major Climate Change In The Past?
This Is What Caused Major Climate Change In The Past
by James Renwick
Earth had several periods of high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and high temperatures over the last several…
Will Three Billion People Really Live In Temperatures As Hot As The Sahara By 2070?
Will Three Billion People Really Live In Temperatures As Hot As The Sahara By 2070?
by Mark Maslin
Humans are amazing creatures, in that they have show they can live in almost any climate.
Tree Rings And Weather Data Warn Of Megadrought
Tree Rings And Weather Data Warn Of Megadrought
by Tim Radford
Farmers in the US West know they have a drought, but may not yet realise these arid years could become a megadrought.
We Just Spent Two Weeks Surveying The Great Barrier Reef. What We Saw Was An Utter Tragedy
We Just Spent Two Weeks Surveying The Great Barrier Reef. What We Saw Was An Utter Tragedy
by Terry Hughes and Morgan Pratchett
Author supplied The Australian summer just gone will be remembered as the moment when human-caused climate change…
5 Ways To Teach Children About Climate Change
5 Ways To Teach Children About Climate Change
by William Finnegan
Climate change is an interdisciplinary subject that both school children and adults think is important. And as we deal…
Polar Ice Melt Raises Sea Level Dangers
Polar Ice Melt Raises Sea Level Dangers
by Tim Radford
Greenland’s polar ice is now melting far faster than 30 years ago, Antarctic ice is retreating at an accelerating rate,…

LATEST VIDEOS

Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
by Gregg Howe and Nathan Havko
For millennia, insects and the plants they feed on have been engaged in a co-evolutionary battle: to eat or not be…
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
by Swapnesh Masrani
Ambitious targets have been set by the UK and Scottish governments to become net-zero carbon economies by 2050 and 2045…
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
by Theresa Crimmins
Across much of the United States, a warming climate has advanced the arrival of spring. This year is no exception.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
A Georgia Town Gets Half Of Its Electricity From President Jimmy Carter's Solar Farm
A Georgia Town Gets Half Of Its Electricity From President Jimmy Carter's Solar Farm
by Johnna Crider
Plains, Georgia, is a small town that is just south of Columbus, Macon, and Atlanta and north of Albany. It is the…
Majority of US Adults Believe Climate Change Is Most Important Issue Today
by American Psychological Association
As the effects of climate change become more evident, more than half of U.S. adults (56%) say climate change is the…
How These Three Financial Firms Could Change The Direction Of The Climate Crisis
How These Three Financial Firms Could Change The Direction Of The Climate Crisis
by Mangulina Jan Fichtner, et al
A silent revolution is happening in investing. It is a paradigm shift that will have a profound impact on corporations,…

LATEST ARTICLES

Heatwaves Too Hot And Wet For Human Life Are Here
Heatwaves Too Hot And Wet For Human Life Are Here Now
by Tim Radford
Lethal heatwaves carrying air turned too hot and wet to survive are a threat which has arrived, thanks to climate…
How Dangerous Is Low-level Radiation To Children?
How Dangerous Is Low-level Radiation To Children?
by Paul Brown
A rethink on the risks of low-level radiation would imperil the nuclear industry’s future − perhaps why there’s never…
What We Do Now Could Change Earth's Trajectory
What We Do Now Could Change Earth's Trajectory
by Pep Canadell, et al
The numbers of people cycling and walking in public spaces during COVID-19 has skyrocketed.
Marine Heatwaves Spell Trouble For Tropical Reef Fish — Even Before Corals Die
Marine Heatwaves Spell Trouble For Tropical Reef Fish — Even Before Corals Die
by Jennifer M.T. Magel and Julia K. Baum
Despite the many challenges facing the world’s oceans today, coral reefs remain strongholds of marine biodiversity.
Warnings of Worse-Than-Usual Hurricane Season Point to Trouble Ahead
Warnings of Worse-Than-Usual Hurricane Season Point to Trouble Ahead
by Eoin Higgins
Hurricane season is about to start and its risks will only grow and potentially compound any impacts from the pandemic.
Australia, It's Time To Talk About Our Water Emergency
Australia, It's Time To Talk About Our Water Emergency
by Quentin Grafton et al
There’s another climate change influence we must also face up to: increasingly scarce water on our continent.
Fossil Fuels Are Heading Down, But Not Yet Out
Fossil Fuels Are Heading Down, But Not Yet Out
by Kieran Cooke
Renewable energy is making rapid inroads into the market, but fossil fuels still wield enormous global influence.
Human Action Will Decide How Much Sea Levels Rise
Human Action Will Decide How Much Sea Levels Rise
by Tim Radford
Sea levels will go on rising, because of human action. By how much, though, depends on what humans do next.